From August 25th 2012 until over a year later, I slept and lived in my car in Los Angeles, California. I moved to Los Angeles for a dream and did not realize how expensive it was to live there. So I began planning in my head and thinking how I might save money and how I might get out of the frustrating living situation I was in at the time.
I decided living and sleeping in my car would be an idea that would satisfy both of those things I wanted for my life in Los Angeles. It was truly a survival experience.
Throughout my time sleeping and living in my car, I learned a tremendous amount. It was a very tough time as well. But it did in fact help me achieve my goals of saving money and being able to live on my “own” in my car. It didn’t come easy getting that life though. There were many learning experiences.
There are many different aspects when it comes to sleeping and living in your car successfully.
Living in your car takes a plethora of survival skills. It truly is a “survival” experience attempting to live in your car.
I was doing this so I could save money and get ahead in life. You have to sacrifice in life if you want to get ahead in life. That’s what I have learned. Especially in this economy today, you never know when hardship may hit and having these survival skills in your pocket may just save your life one day when you experience hardship.
I saved a great deal of money and had extra money I wouldn’t have had if I was paying rent somewhere.
I am going to go over a few key aspects it takes to successfully live in your car. Even if you never have to live in your car in your life, it’s good to be prepared. You never know what life may throw your way one day.
When it comes to food, there are many options when living in your car. My purpose living in my car was saving as much money as I could. So I keep that in mind when thinking about food.
In grocery stores, they usually have a bakery or already-cooked foods section and these are somewhat affordable as well. I used to get 2 pieces of fried chicken and some potatoes and it was decently priced and nice to have some “real” food for a change sometimes.
Where to sleep is probably one of the most key elements of sleeping in your car. A good sleeping area can make or break you living in your car. You have to find a place that is safe but also a place where you can stay on the down-low enough to not be noticed.
I personally slept at a 24-hour grocery store I used to work at. I lucked out. But I’d say if you can manage to sleep at a 24-hour store somewhere that would be good. Or in a neighborhood that is safe where you can stay under the radar.
Once you do find that place you have to make sure to do everything you can to not be noticed.
Your car has to be primed and ready.
I had dark tint on my windows some of the time I slept in my car. If you don’t, you can put dark towels up in front of all windows. You have to be conspicuous though and make sure no one is around when you put them up. Just go to your spot, park, shut the car off and set the towels up. That is what I did. Make sure you choose the same place for sleeping every night. It makes things a lot easier. Don’t tell anyone where you sleep.
Have the radio off long before you get to your spot so you don’t draw any attention to yourself. Additional tip: do not open your doors once you get to your spot or get out of your car at all. It only draws more attention to yourself.
Keeping your hygiene good is absolutely key to sleeping and living in your car and staying unnoticed. The more you are noticed the worse it is for you. You have to give an appearance you are not homeless. If not, you will be kicked out of a lot of places you may hang out at. I took showers at a gym. I got a monthly gym membership. It was only $40 a month. So it was not much. I got to both work out and get clean. I recommend having a backpack with everything you need for the shower and a combination lock to lock up your stuff while you are in the shower.
There are a few options of where to hang out on your day off work or when you have free time.
Fast food chains. They usually have free WiFi for laptops. If you keep a low profile, it’s likely you will go generally unnoticed. Just make sure to keep to yourself for the most part. I didn’t even buy anything much of the time and no one cared to be honest.
Public libraries are great places to hang out in your spare time especially if you have a laptop. There is free WiFi that does not expire like many food places. There are usually a good amount of seats. It is nice and cool inside or warm depending on the climate where you live.
Malls are a decent area to hang out at as well. To find a seat and read a book or walk around. Just as long as you don’t have to pay for parking to be at a mall then it’s great.
The gym is a great place as well. You can work out for a while to kill time and be inside.
Also, if you have made any friends or anything like that, then that will help a ton as well.
There are many important aspects to surviving living in one’s car. These are a few of the key ones. The key thing is keeping a low profile in all you do. That way, you can have the longevity to stay in your car as long as you need to.
You have to stay mentally strong and continually aware and focused of everyone and everything around you. Keep your head up. Always know it is not forever and is only a temporary situation.
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